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This time Quinn’s ranting to get away. Make travel a budget priority.

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AUTHOR: R Quinn on 7/02/2024

Travel is one of the hot topics in retirement planning and one of the big budget items for many. That’s a good thing. In our early years retired we spent $20,000 a year on travel. It was money well spent. I hope to spend more.

I get into “discussions” with a woman on Facebook mostly about immigration.  As part of that I tried to explain what I have learned about people, how they live and why for generations they have wanted to come to America. Her response was “I have never been out of the Country and have no desire to.” She also said people who live a lifestyle well below what we expect in the U.S, have themselves to blame. 

I found that rather obnoxious. 

Travel can be exciting – try changing cruise ships in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as we did or maybe making a wrong turn and entering a Muslim neighborhood in Jerusalem carrying a cross. I once greatly upset a camel driver in Morocco with an apparently inadequate tip. My favorite; being threatened by an armed soldier for stepping off the curb in the Kremlin. 

Most of all travel can be educational and help us appreciate our American lifestyle. As David McCullough writes in his Brave Companions, “the country you learn most about by traveling abroad is your own.”

We have traveled to 45 countries from Sweden to Argentina, from Russia to Israel and to every state in the U.S. Sure, there are plenty of sights to see and we enjoy all of that, but meeting different people, visiting them in their homes and seeing how they live, what they view as important and what they think of “rich” Americans is the greatest value to me. 

If you want to understand poverty with little in the way of a safety net, travel the remote areas of Russia or the West Bank in Israel or the hills in Costa Rica away from the ocean front resorts. People may live in shacks in Appalachia, but it’s better than an empty refrigerator carton. 

We accept our food as always there, just go the market and pick it up. We rarely think what it takes to get there or the tremendous amount of work and risk involved. I once drove a combine in Illinois harvesting corn and soy beans. It was only an hour or so and a few acres, but there were two thousand more acres to harvest all the while hoping the weather stayed favorable. Needless to say, harvesting is a small part of the total work year. 

In other parts of the world obtaining food is much harder.

Walk around European cities and you will still see reminders of WWII everywhere. How can most Americans comprehend the dangers of political upheaval, the economic devastation? Even the Great Depression doesn’t compare.

How can we understand our own country unless we have have walked Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields and pondered the sacrifices made?

Visit the homes of our presidents and learn why they took the direction they did and in many cases, learn about the very modest beginnings they overcame. 

Walk the fields of old southern plantations and imagine the enslaved people making it all work. Make sure Williamsburg, VA is on your bucket list to better understand Colonial life from different points of view. I once took a few grandchildren to Williamsburg. We visited a slave quarters where a slave/actor explained their life. The children were upset when he described how mothers and fathers were sold and taken from the family.  

Visit a Native American reservation and recall all the broken treaties and promises leading to current poverty conditions. 

If I appear obsessed with travel and history, I am. It upsets me when someone tells me they have no desire to see their own country let alone other parts of the world. They have no idea how places they have never seen, perhaps never heard of affect their everyday lives – the availability of goods and services, the price of food, gasoline and more, even the value of their money. 

See the USA in your … see the world. Put travel on that retirement planning spreadsheet.

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